The parties, and their consuls, in the Panamagate hearings in front of the Supreme Court seem to be taking turns to misrepresent their cases to the general amusement of the courtroom. Pakistan Tehereek-i-Insaaf (PTI) was the first one with its “unprepared and meandering” arguments in the original hearings, and now Jamat-i-Islami (JI) is going down the same route. Advocate Taufiq Asif, appearing on behalf of JI chief Sirajul Haq, ended the day amid ringing laughter as the bench tauntingly took apart his arguments.

The problem facing the JI’s submissions is the same one that has dogged all petitioners in this case; that the standards of legal certainty and political certainty are different. Lengthy arguments that draw ‘evidence’ from several sources fail to make an impact because they fail to prove the central point, which is to demonstrate a conflict of interest between the ownership of property - such as the London flats - and Nawaz Sharif’s duties as Prime Minister. The court has to point out time and again that the steady increase in the Prime Minister’s assets and business may be considered immoral by a political gathering, but since the Prime Minister is not barred by law to hold property, he cannot be disqualified on the mere assumption that there was impropriety. If he has used his powers for personal gain, or abused his position for financial benefit, only then can there be a legal sanction.

The only other actionable count that remains before the petitioners is to prove that the Prime Minister misrepresented his assets, and as such must be disqualified for falsifying official documents. It is here that the real battle of the Panamagate case is being fought; who owned what property and when, when did these properties make an appearance on official records and nomination papers, does the Prime Minister’s contradictory speech in the Parliament count as “official” or protected under parliamentary privilege?

These matters need to take up most of the petitioners time as they seem to be the ones that can be relatively easier to prove. And while Mr Taufiq Asif moved on to them during the hearing, he struggled with them too. He seemed to have convinced himself and was trying to convince the court that the Prime Minister’s speech before the parliament explaining the status of his property ownership was an admission of his ownership of the London flats before 2006. This is an interpretation no one had made before, and as the court observed, that if it was so the case would already be over.